The coronavirus has the Netherlands in its grips. To gain insight into how people view the imposed coronavirus measures in the Netherlands, their motivation in adhering to the measures, and what the impact is on their daily lives, RIVMNational Institute for Public Health and the Environment  National Institute for Public Health and the Environment   and GGD GHOR (the Netherlands Municipal Public Health Services and Medical Assistance in Accidents and Disasters) are conducting a large-scale study on this topic. The study explores human behaviour, what people think of the government’s behavioural measures, and how they are doing physically, mentally and socially in these corona times.

Results of 4th survey in study on behaviour and well-being

Avoid crowds, stay 1.5 metres apart, and work from home as much as possible. These recommendations issued by the Dutch Government are intended to limit the number of contact moments when the virus could be transmitted. This is a challenge, because people are increasingly going outside and making more appointments to meet up in small groups. That makes it more difficult to stay 1.5m apart. Theatres, cafés and restaurants appear to be locations where people are most successful at staying 1.5 metres apart. The vast majority of participants – despite a slight decrease – support the coronavirus measures. This was clear from the fourth round of the behavioural study conducted by RIVMNational Institute for Public Health and the Environment and the regional public health services (GGDs).

Avoid crowds, stay 1.5 metres apart, and work from home

In the national survey, 39% of respondents indicated that they had been in a busy place last week where they could not maintain a distance of 1.5 metres. At that point, 28% of them decided to turn back. Most respondents (89%) support the measure to avoid crowds and think it works well to control the virus. Not everyone has an easy time doing so in actual practice, and 15% indicated that it was difficult or very difficult for them.

It is often possible to keep 1.5 metres apart (in 61% of situations), but not always. The number of people who find it easy or very easy to stay 1.5 meters apart decreased between April and June (from 63% to 45%). However, there has been no significant reduction since the previous survey (3 weeks earlier), despite the decision to ease the government measures. Participants indicated that they more often manage to keep their distance in the cinema or theatre (74%) and in cafés and restaurants (55%) than in the supermarket (13%) or at work (24%).

Working from home is a different story. Although 81% think that this measure is helpful or very helpful to prevent the spread of the virus, only 37% find it easy or very easy to work from home. Support for this measure is somewhat lower compared to other measures (67%).

The good news is that the number of people who felt lonely or somewhat lonely has dropped to 51% in recent months (from 70% in April). The same is true of the number of people who indicate that they feel more or much more anxious or despondent than before the crisis (from 35% in April to 16% in June). The number of people who say they exercise and play sports less or much less than before the crisis has also decreased (from 53% two months ago to 37% now). On the other hand, the number of people who indicate that they have started exercising and playing sports more or much more has remained fairly stable (from 13% to 16%).

Measures not always clear

Despite the relaxed measures and simplifications, such as staying 1.5 metres apart while outdoors, nearly two-thirds of the participants (61%) indicate that they consider it illogical or difficult to understand why the behavioural measures seem to apply in some situations but not in others. 53% of these people disregard this and try to follow the measures as well as possible. 40% (out of those 61%) also indicated that they were becoming confused or were less motivated to comply with the measures.

More details

Obviously, there is lots more to share about this study. For more details, visit the page on research. It includes data on support for the hygiene measures, what people think of face masks in public transport, whether people think a second wave is likely to happen, and more.

Next week, we will publish new information about staying at home and getting tested in the event of corona-related symptoms.

About the study

In order to gain a better understanding of people’s thoughts about the coronavirus measures, what motivates them to comply, and how people are affected, a major study has been launched jointly by RIVMNational Institute for Public Health and the Environment , the Netherlands Municipal Public Health Services and Medical Assistance in Accidents and Disasters (GGD-GHOR) and the regional public health services (GGDs). The study explores human behaviour, what people think of the government’s behavioural measures, and how they are doing physically, mentally and socially in these corona times. The results above were taken from the fourth survey of more than 50,000 people in 17-21 June and compared to results from the previous surveys. These insights help the government to provide better support and information to citizens.